LA CRESCENTA — In order to complete the transformation from hosts of the Falcon Classic girls’ basketball tournament to champion, Crescenta Valley team needed to win its fourth game in as many days as it matched up with West Ranch in the title game.
With a determined effort and contributions across the board, the Falcons did just that, pulling away from the Wildcats in the second half to win, 46-34, Saturday night, opening the season by winning their host tournament for the first time.
“We’re very excited. This is our first win, actually,” tournament MVP Ella Stepanian said. “We’ve never won a Falcon Classic here at CV. So this is new for us. We’re very happy about it. We’ve worked very hard before the season. This is what we came here to do.”
Stepanian, who sat out last season with a knee injury, scored just one basket in the final game, giving her 57 points over the four games. However, the senior had 12 assists and five steals in the final and adeptly executed the ball-handling duties throughout.
“[Stepanian] had a great game; even when she doesn’t score, she does so much,” CV Coach Jason Perez said.
Crescenta Valley (4-0) saw a different player come up big in each quarter as it built a lead against West Ranch (3-1), which had beaten the Falcons in last year’s tournament. In the first quarter, the Falcon offense was the inside game of Alisa Shinn, who would finish with a team-high 17 points and earn all-tournament honors.
“We started slow,” Perez said. “We just couldn't get going, missing a lot of easy shots. Alisa Shinn, man, she kept us in the game in the first half.”
The sophomore scored all 10 of Crescenta Valley’s points in the first quarter, after which the home team led, 10-9. Stepanian had four assists in the quarter.
“We have this connection, really,” Stepanian said of her link with the 6-foot-2 Shinn. “That is our thing. Alisa runs down court and I make those passes.”
The second quarter mirrored the first on the scoreboard and the Falcons went into the break up, 20-18. In the first half, CV had trouble defending without fouling and as the fouls mounted on the starters, freshman Poline Megerdichian came off the bench to score all six of her points in the second quarter.
“We got big points from a freshman,” Perez said.
The Falcons seized control of the contest in the third quarter when they did not give up a field goal to the Wildcats. In the third it was Tanisha Minasian who took over the scoring duties with seven points in the frame, after which CV led, 33-21. The senior would finish with 12 points and also earn all-tournament honors.
“Our defense wears teams down,” Perez said. “That trap and press wears teams down and that’s what it did. We wore [West Ranch] down and they got tired at the end and that is how we were able to beat them.”